F1 makes biggest ever investment in digital as it looks to serve fans better

F1’s marketing boss admits it hasn’t served fans as well as it could have in the past, but hopes a new TV app will bring them closer to the brand.

Formula One is making its biggest investment in digital to date with the launch of an over-the-top live subscription service, as it looks to change brand perceptions and serve its fans better.

F1 TV will launch across 40 markets – including Germany, France and the USA but not in the UK –  next month, in time for the upcoming Formula One season. It will allow fans to watch ad-free live streams of each race, while on-board cameras will show live content from the driver’s point of view.

Speaking to Marketing Week at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday (27 February), Formula One’s marketing director, Ellie Norman, said 2018 is about “launching the brand” – and F1 TV will play a pivotal role in opening up the business to new digital opportunities.

“Previously, we definitely had a logo but we didn’t have an identity,” Norman said. “What we did have was a series of perceptions that we are working hard to change.”

Norman, who joined Formula One last August, said her main focus this year is building Formula One an identity with fans “at the heart”.

“For us this is a real step-change from the sport as it was in the past, which fans definitely felt wasn’t there to serve them,” Norman said.

“Every decision we are making is about how it serves the fan, so if it doesn’t serve the fan, it doesn’t serve Formula One.”

READ MORE: F1’s commercial boss on building a brand beyond racing

The app will launch without any advertising, but Norman said Formula One is open to conversations “if there is a relevance there” to improve the customer experience.

Alongside F1 TV, Norman said ‘fan festivals’ will also be key to bringing people closer to the sport.

Following a successful launch in London last summer, another four events are lined up this year in Shanghai, Marseilles, Berlin and Miami.

“It’s an opportunity for us to take some of those core elements of Formula One but to take them into city centres; to an audience that has never engaged with, or been to a Formula One race before,” Norman explained. “The ambition is to increase that number to 15 in 2019.”

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